Students not allowed to throw caps in the air at graduation

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Seniors across New Hanover county will graduate from high school Saturday, but they will have to forgo a commencement tradition.

We've learned seniors aren't allowed to throw their caps in the air at Saturday's ceremonies at Trask Coliseum on the campus of UNCW.

Some students and parents are upset about the rules.

Hoggard High senior Juliana Chuffo was hoping to be able to toss her cap to celebrate the milestone.

"I would love to be able to do it," she said. "I went around school and everyone knew that we weren't allowed to throw our caps and they were like, 'Whatever.' But I was like, 'Why are you just OK with it?'"

However, her father, Ray Chuffo, is not OK with the decision.

"I think it is a petty decision," he said. "It's unnecessary. It is just another example of our freedoms being eroded."

Chuffo claims he contacted Hoggard High Principal Pam Baldwin and she told him it was a safety issue. We tried to contact Baldwin and she has not returned our calls.

Chuffo said that Baldwin told him she would hold Juliana's diploma if she does it.

Chuffo even contacted the ACLU but he says they told him there wasn't enough time before graduation day to fight this battle.

Other principals within the district are banning the cap toss for various reasons. At Ashley High School, Principal Kenneth Bowen said the rule was in place before he started working at the school last year. He wants to see how graduation goes this year and revise the rules in the future if necessary.

New Hanover High School Principal Todd Finn said he isn't allowing it because he's afraid the hats would hit and damage the new scoreboard at Trask.

Finn also said since the ceremonies for the four high schools are back to back, he wants to make sure the grads leave the coliseum quickly and cleanly.

School board members say it's up to each high school principal to set the rules and tone for the graduation ceremonies.

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